Please welcome our week 24 Artist: Tom Hoops. On Flickr.
1) Tell us about where you're living right now and how it's influencing your photography.
I live in Bangkok, Thailand. I live in an unusual part of town, my neighbors on one side have expensive houses and on the other there is a small slum. It was in this little slum that I first took my camera and started capturing life in the area.
Bangkok as a city is full of contrasts and amazing people. It's partly a beautiful city but can be equally very ugly. I try and capture the real side of things, not the sort of images you see in travel brochures. I think my work can be regarded as a reflection of the city, mostly ugly, with a hint of the odd, unusual and sometimes beautiful.
2) Where's your favourite place for finding subjects?
Tough question. Bangkok is great all over, but I tend to like the markets and places where people are themselves. You are more likely to find me in these places or a slum than a shopping centre or uptown area.
I will often just walk about and end up in all sorts of places.
Anywhere you find lots of people is good. Train stations, bus stations, public events, anywhere people feel comfortable and I am not too obtrusive.
3) If you could travel one place for a few weeks to just do photography, where would it be?
Another tough one, I'd say a toss up for me between India and the UK.. As you are only allowing one choice I'm going to say the UK. I think it's a fantastic place to shoot. The people are very varied and the environments are superb.
If I were in the UK right now I would be shooting families at home, 60s wallpaper backgrounds, funfairs, chavs, council estates, amateur boxing, the list goes on. London is as cosmopolitan as it gets, what a great place to photograph people.
4) What is your equipment of choice?
Well my dream set up would be the D3 for its high ISO capabilities and a couple of lenses. A Mac and Photoshop.
I have friends who have every piece of equipment available, the best of everything. Photography is expensive. I try and keep it down to the basics so my wallet doesn't feel too hard done by!
5) How much does equipment help a photographer in your opinion?
It depends on the photographer, I don't believe equipment will turn you into a good photographer, but it certainly helps. You can't pretend that a point and shoot gives you the same results as an SLR with a decent lens.
6) Talk us through your processing techniques, particularly through some of the Nikon D80 highly processed B&Ws
All of my processing is done through Photoshop. I don't use just one method I often play around until I find something I like. In general I bring in the raw file and convert to black and white using gradient map, then fiddle with curves and levels. If it's a close up portrait I will dodge and burn to add some more contrast. If I'm feeling in the mood I might add some texture layers also. Once I am at a stage I am happy with I will sharpen the image and then save.
I enjoy the processing almost as much as taking the photos; it adds another creative element to my work.
7) What goals do you have with your photography, either emotionally, professionally, or both.
I really can't put into words how much I love taking photos. So if the opportunity came along that I was able to turn it into a full time job I would do so. Short term I would like to put an exhibition together and start on a couple of little projects I have in mind. Long term I would love to produce some meaningful photojournalism, and later perhaps help others who want to try photographing people, but are a little too shy to do so….. possibly in the form of some holiday tours.
Have to also mention project 12. A great project with some very talented people.
8) Which is your favorite portrait we chose for Spotlight Seven? Tell us something about it.
Well you have chosen a shot of my lovely wiife so I have to choose that one. She puts up with me and for that she deserves a medal. She looks great in the black and white too; she is more beautiful than she gives herself credit for.
Also have to mention this one www.flickr.com/photos/tomhoops/2349758436/in/pool-spotlig...
It's one of the first times I shot a photo and called my wife over to take a look at it. I like it when that happens. He happens to live near by and has an extraordinary face.
9) Show us any photo on Flickr you wish you took
There are so many! Flickr has talent in abundance if you know where to look.
I could have chosen from so many. But as I can only choose one it's this one:
It does what a photo should do. it makes you sit up and notice.
10)Any influences on Flickr or elsewhere you want to share, maybe something you've learned from them?
Loads of them.
Look through my favs and you will see inspiration all over. Artists pushing the limits. Not many kitten shots or babies and flowers but a host of talented people putting photos up that consistently inspire me. I have made some real friends on Flickr. Philbertobehan, Billy Gomez, Kirsty Mitchell, Bichito and Falsalama to name a few.
The magnum photographers are a constant source of inspiration, when i started a friend plonked a giant magnum coffee table book on my lap and it's been difficult to stop leafing through it ever since.